Frontier City. Toronto on the Verge of Greatness
Shawn Micallef, 2016
Signal $29.95 hard cover
Frontier City is about political events in Toronto mid decade and its author’s mission to understand his massive city.
By political events, of course we mean Rob Ford and his train wreck of a mayoralty.
Micallef is a writer, academic and walker. He’s a believer in seeing for himself. Starting with a Ford Nation barbecue (where lots of people were apparently perfectly nice!) he then goes off into the Los Angeles-scaled sprawl from where Ford drew so much of his resentful strength. It took a couple of years of this direct experience, getting around to the far flung wards of Toronto and walking them in the company of twelve political underdogs from the 2014 election, to get the job done. A worthy effort, indeed. If you want the real thing as to how political and social reality work together in the super-sprawl of the GTA nowadays you won’t do better than Frontier CIty.
Of course, this blog would like life to be simpler than Micalleff’s findings. We admit our emotions would be more satisfied by a deeper hatred of Big Rich Rob and his whack job performance as ‘mayor’. Frontier City is why we have (and need) public intellectuals. Bloggers can do only so much of the heavy lifting. Micallef sorts through a huge number of things within the realms of history, planning, economics to create a picture of where Toronto is at.
The picture is disturbing and tough to balance. After decades of looking to the future many of us can be forgiven for wondering why the present is so crap.
Consider the 3-billion dollar single-stop subway for Scarborough. That’s just one self-inflicted thing driving us crazy and showing us our faults as we try to realize our potential. Things ought to be so good here that electing a fucked up slob like Rob Ford ought to have been the last thing on anybody’s mind. That guy cancelled Transit City at the cost of $65m dollars. And his thing, apparently, was saving money? We really may be on the edge of a dark age and a vast nobody-to-blame-but-ourselves wastage.
Public transit issues appear again and again in Frontier City. All the really cheerful things that suburban-poverty.com trades in are found, too, from bed bugs to tower blocks. Anyone looking into the recent history of Canada’s biggest community will find this book a worthy read. I would have liked an index, maybe a further reading list as well and a map. These handy things don’t cost much and they up the value and relevance of hardcover books – objects that typically now cost several hours pay at minimum wage.
Even more, I’d have liked at least one chapter on solutions going forward. A more direct consideration of neoliberalism, the grand grinding ideology of our inequitable times might have helped as well. The passage about infrastructure and storytelling was great, powerful and could be a book someone ought to write.
Frontier CIty isn’t quite angry enough for us but we really liked this one and think you will, too.
Precarious employment really is a form of second-class citizenship that isn’t good for us. A confluence of recent studies back that up, including a recent survey of Ontario Federation of Labour members.
Universal basic income: a psychological assessment
Psychologists for Social Change 22-page .pdf file
Ontario releases basic income consultation feedback.
Province moving forward with pilot program in 2017
The promise of a basic income in Canada
image: Kristo via Flickr/CC
A pleasure it is to point you toward a brace of articles about getting around the GTA’s sprawl lands. Oh yeah, it’s also about race.
Race, the ‘burbs, and transportation. In one of the most diverse communities in North America, any discussion about public space and policy needs to include race
image: Daniel Hoherd via Flickr/CC
If you are living and working in Durham we hope you are doing better than Ontario’s minimum wage ($11.40 per hour).
Living wage for Durham region pegged at $17 an hour. Family of four in Durham needs an annual employment income of $67, 261 to have a decent quality of life
See also: (317) Durham Region
Elements of the movement for a fifteen dollar per hour minimum wage that started up south of the border in the fast food industry seems to have arrived at Canada’s biggest, busiest, richest airport. And so it should!
CBC Metro Morning (6:20)
See also: (965) Pearson workers look for better
image: AdolfGalland via Flickr/CC
Two features from well-regarded Canadian magazines about how we might produce cash for things of public good:
Canada is ready for toll roads and carbon taxes. A majority of voters now favour user fees, but cowardly politicians are getting in the way
Ontario is proving that taxing the one per cent works. Despite decades of tax cut rhetoric, you really can ask the rich to pay more taxes. Ontario did, and high-priced talent didn’t flee the province
image: Marc Falardeau via Flickr/CC